Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Becoming a Soggy Old Woman

This short video made me cry. We did a great disservice to the men and women who were called to serve our country in Vietnam.

I was just a little kid in the sixties, but the shame of what others did to these servicemen still haunts me. My personal commitment is to always thank anyone I meet who is in uniform. I meet the nicest people that way!


  1. At 1:40, the Mom holds the camera and says "Smile big". The man affably leans in, and, if you are an absolute expert at noticing the tiniest shifting flicker of minute portions of facial muscles, then and only then can you notice any change in his face. He shifts into his happy face, and you must be a facial recognition expert to see it.

    That moment immediately struck me - even more than the remainder of the video. I laughed, out of recognition, and out of love for my fellow men. But, also tragic.

    I belong to a prayer group of 10 men, all of us fiftyish in age. Once, with half of us in attendance, we found we all had exactly the same experience: as young men, we trained ourselves to stifle our emotions. As middle aged men, we had to retrain ourselves to let our emotions out. For all of us, it was an extended process: we couldn't suddenly flip a switch and be expressive. For me, it took a decade to reverse my early self training.

    The "be tough" manhood ethic does serve a valuable purpose: it encourages productivity, and courage - even the courage to give one's life, if necessary.

    The problem is that it sends a message, to each young man, that he is far more valued for his productivity and his courage ... than for his humanity. The message, to each young man, is that he is more of a commodity and less of a human. This message is why we invented the term "mid life crisis". It is why, in "The Incredibles", Edna says: "A middle aged man is the MOST UNSTABLE CREATURE ON THE PLANET!"

    In protest against treating men as commodities, some people swing too far in the opposite direction, and convict productivity and courage. To convict productivity and courage is to overcorrect.

    We need balance: humanity AND productivity AND courage. Too little of any of the three legs, and the stool falls over. And, of course, there is no black and white formula for getting to an inspiring balance of the three. Getting there, and being there over time, is art. Which is what makes this challenge interesting, and difficult, and great.

    1. Sorry for the delay in my response! Things got crazy around here yesterday. Besides, I wanted to really think about what you wrote before responding. So here's my unorthodox viewpoint...

      I think it has a lot to do with how the sexes relate to each other...but doesn't everything? And THAT has a lot to do with the industrial revolution and how roles changed so dramatically. Before that, it seems to me, we related to each other in much more honest ways because our lives and duties were so intertwined that we shared responsibility, each was important - vital - and the different abilities were balanced as they fit together.

      It wasn't until the rapid, life-changing onset of technology that roles changed dramatically - more than at any other time in history - and we were sort of plunged into a world where the greatest advantage was gained by splitting our roles and going separate ways. Men, for the most part, went off to work, and women stayed home. This created an entirely different situation for both sexes. We've heard PLENTY from women vis a vis the feminists, but men had their share of negative consequences.

      When the sexes "parted" to take advantage of the changing economy, men suddenly were spending ALL their productive time with other men, for the most part. Before, they worked with their wives, family and children. Now, they were in a world with only men, and it was a COMPETITIVE world, instead of a shared goal kind of world. I think that would HAVE to make men learn to shove their emotions down - WAAAAY down - and become only productive and courageous. Those were the most important qualities to develop in a world where you were going to spend all day competing with other men. It has taken its toll.

      Men get their humanity from women. Remove us and what we bring...and you get imbalance.

      I could go on about what happened to women...but I won't. Suffice it to say, that, IMHO, the sexes NEED each other far more than our current society recognizes. We aren't really happy when whole sections of our lives are spent apart.

      Oh...and having women enter the workforce didn't really help...the rules had been too deeply instilled before we got there and we had to turn into "Mini Me's" to fit in. Actually hurt both men and women even more.